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Focusing Tip #656 – Finding richness in our criticisms of other people

Focusing Tip #656 – Finding richness in our criticisms of other people
May 8, 2019 Ann Weiser Cornell
Do you find yourself stressed by how infuriating other people are? Read on...

Focusing Tip #656 – Finding richness in our criticisms of other people

Do you find yourself stressed by how infuriating other people are? Read on…


Jim writes:

You’ve written that the sentence to use when we encounter an inner self-critic is, “Might you be worried about something?”

Is this the sentence to use when I catch myself criticizing or judging others?

Dear Jim:

I’m excited to hear that you are getting curious about your judging of other people. People often don’t realize our criticisms of others can be a deep well of self-understanding and even transformation.

Let’s go directly to the place where feeling critical of others can bring the most pain and the most transformation when it shifts: our close relationships.

Here is someone you love… and yet they drive you crazy because they… leave their socks on the floor… don’t listen… stay up late at night… chew food with their mouth open… can’t keep track of their keys… Oh, the list is endless!

It’s not my department to suggest how you might talk to that other person about what is bothering you. (I recommend Non-Violent Communication for that.)

What I find fascinating – and I think this is what you are asking me, Jim – is how I can use my criticisms of the other person as a jumping off place for my own inner exploration and personal growth. And there is a lot of potential there!

Here’s the tip: Start with the criticism, and then re-phrase it with the words “something in me.”

For example, “It drives me crazy when Joe asks me for computer help late at night.” becomes “It drives something in me crazy when Joe asks me for computer help late at night.”

And then say Hello to that part of you, and let it know you’d like to get to know it better. “There is something about Joe asking me for computer help late at night that drives something in me crazy.” What’s very powerful here is to go beyond the obvious, easy answer. “Because he needs to learn to do it himself!” will not bring new growth and change.

So pause… and take your time… and especially ask, “What might this part of me be worried about for me?”

By the way, this is my own story. My partner Joe asked me for computer help late at night (for the umpteenth time) and I blew up. I paused… and I thought, “I’d better try my own method here!” When I settled down and felt in my body, I could feel a vulnerability underneath the irritation. “What is this part of me really worried about?” That if he can’t take care of his computer stuff, then if I really need his help, he won’t be able to take care of me.

I tenderly let that young part of me know that I heard it… and felt a relaxing breath move through my body. That was all it needed… and I cheerfully went off to help Joe put a file into Dropbox. It’s not always that easy… but it often is!

Definitely worth a try!

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